TOKYO — Nissan is floating a "sleek, sexy and seamless" design for a new all-electric crossover that could be hitting U.S. markets with a grilleless face, flat floor and minimalist instrument panel.
The concept for Nissan's long-awaited all-wheel-drive EV was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday, called the Ariya Concept. It foreshadows the first of a range of EVs to be built on a new dedicated platform co-developed by Nissan Motor Co. and partner Renault.
The Ariya builds on the IMx Concept shown at the 2017 Tokyo show. But even much closer to production now, the design revels in futuristic flourishes that Nissan hopes will set it apart from an increasingly crowded field of electric crossovers from Tesla, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo and others.
Nissan unveiled an EV crossover concept to its U.S. dealers last month. The production version is expected to arrive in the U.S. in the second half of 2021, one of eight battery-powered models that Nissan is planning globally. The crossover would be Nissan's second EV offering in North America after the Leaf hatchback.
"This is not just a show car. This is our serious commitment. This is a real car," Chief Product Specialist Makoto Fukuda said of the Ariya at a preshow briefing in Japan.
"This is what will be our next step after the Leaf."
The Ariya uses a flat floor and a compact front motor compartment made possible by its electric drivetrain. Both design elements enable a spacious and premium cabin with high-tech features, Nissan said.
Nissan calls its flat-floor EV layout the "magic flying carpet" concept.
"The Ariya Concept defines the new center for EVs at Nissan," Design Director Giovanny Arroba said at the briefing. Having no center tunnel, he said, "really allows us to expand the inner space. We wanted to create a new electric architecture, a new special experience inside the car."
Arroba used the word "seamless" to describe the unrestricted flow through the spacious cabin, as well as the connectivity of the future vehicle's onboard technology.
Under the hood, the electric drivetrain will be a two-motor, all-wheel-drive setup, a Nissan EV first, Fukuda said. The front and rear motors can be independently controlled to optimize torque.
"We are not just making a fast-accelerating muscle car, but a car that can allow the driver to drive in any situations safely and confidently," Fukuda said.